With 17 seconds remaining in a one-point game Thursday against No. 7 Notre Dame, Diamond Miller missed her first of two free-throw opportunities. Fellow senior Faith Masonius walked from her spot under the basket and gave Miller a reassuring nod.
While Masonius’ advice aimed to reassure, sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers opted for an incentive-based approach. She told Miller that she needed to make the second free throw if she wanted to get a pass to win the match should the Fighting Irish tie the score, Sellers said.
Moments later, Notre Dame caught No. 20 Maryland women’s basketball sleeping on an inbound play to knot the score at 72. Coach Brenda Frese used a timeout to advance the ball. Sellers received the inbound pass with 15 seconds to go and held the ball for half of the remaining time before finding Miller.
The New Jersey native turned to her left and hit a series of moves before floating a shot with her right leg extended. The ball glanced off the right side of the rim and through the net for a Maryland victory.
[Diamond Miller hits game-winner as Maryland women’s basketball beats Notre Dame, 74-72]
“At that point, we knew that the ball was gonna go to Diamond,” Frese said. “[She] had the hot hand, and it was a set for us, and she executed it to perfection… I have so much trust in Diamond. She wants to make those plays.”It didn’t matter that everyone in the Joyce Center could guess who would take Maryland’s final shot. Frese recently said Miller was a leader, not a follower, and the four-year guard wanted to take the final shot, noting she “didn’t want them to get another possession where something was gonna go to overtime.”
“Even if you know it’s going to Diamond, you probably have like a less than five percent chance of stopping her,” Sellers said.
After handing Notre Dame its first loss of the season, Miller shuffled down the court, shushing the home crowd.
The Terps toppled one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation courtesy of 31 points, 12 rebounds and five assists from Miller. She became the first player with a 30-point, 10-rebound, five-assist game since Alyssa Thomas in 2013. Still, Maryland received contributions from all over.
“It wasn’t just me out there,” Miller said. “Everybody was driving to the basket and scoring, and without my teammates, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
[Remembering Maryland basketball’s 10 most memorable ACC/Big Ten Challenge games]
Sellers had 17 points, five rebounds and two steals, while senior guards Lavender Briggs — who scored her 1,000th career point — Abby Meyers and Brinae Alexander combined for 22 points and 11 rebounds.
While Frese called her senior captain’s play “spectacular,” Maryland’s head coach wasn’t the only one who took note of Miller’s late-game heroics. Brooklyn Nets forward and Maryland native Kevin Durant shouted out the Terps’ star player on Twitter following the game-winner.
When asked about Durant’s tweet, Miller said she would need some time to process the recognition but had a message for anyone who didn’t watch Thursday’s affair.
“People need to watch us because we all can ball, and we all are talented,” Miller said. “And just because we’re women doesn’t mean we’re less than any other man.”